Wednesday 21 November 2007

Thoughts on "Up & Out"

Last night I went to see "Up & Out" by Christian Marclay at ACMI after winning free tickets from

Christian Marclay interests me because he's a turntablist in the artistic sense - using records and the experience of listening to and playing with vinyl to recontextualise sound, beyond what a normal DJ - even DJs like DJ Kentaro.

He also plays around with sound and vision in mashup style.

His film "Up & Out" is a mashup of the vision from Blow Up by Michelangelo Antonioni and the sound from Blow Out by Brian de Palma.

It was interesting, but I thought it could be done better... it was simply the sound of "Up" over the vision of "Out" and whilst there was some good congruency at times, it got old pretty quickly.

The start was the best, with the score of "Out" creating a sense of apprehension with the tape loop clicking over the strings of the opening track, whilst the vision shows a bunch of face painted freaks cavort over the screen. Gives the already odd on screen action a really spooky, malevolent edge.

I only watched it for about half and hour though - the film nerd in me enjoyed it, but the rest of me thought two things - a) I could do this and b) I could be doing something better.

I understand the thought behind it, especially as both films deal with voyeurism and things not being as they seem and politicising technology, but personally thought it was a bit weak.

I would have liked to see a little more thought put into it - splicing the sound of one into the other at opportune times, a proper mashup with a bit more thought to it.

The best mashups, musically at any rate, are the ones that not only mash incongruent pieces of music but make them enjoyable as stand alone pieces. The Grey Album works because not only is it mashing two incongruent artists like the Beatles with Jay-Z, but each individual song can be played and enjoyed on it's own. You don't need to know anything about Jay-Z's '99 Problems' or the Beatles 'Helter Skelter' to enjoy 99 Problems on the Grey Album.

"Up & Out" needs knowledge of both original films, and maybe even knowledge of both Antonioni and de Palma, to work. In this sense I feel it suffers. To make it work as a film it needed dialog from Blow Up to come in at opportune times.

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